"Uhm, hey, Carlos...WOULD YOU PLEASE HIT A GODDAMN SHOT?!"
The Indiana Pacers: The nightmare continues. The Pacers have led at halftime all three games. They have held a fourth quarter lead in all three games. They have played the Bulls to a standstill in all three games.
Yet they are 0-3 and on the brink of elimination.
Last night, the Bulls shot 39 percent, gave up 18 points off 16 turnovers, surrendered 15 offensive rebounds and suffered through a 4-for-18 shooting night from Derrick Rose...and won.
This is how close it was:
Was that a travel? You be the judge:
Rose's layup made the highlights, but the real game-breaker was Kyle Korver, who said "Flame the fuck on!" and scored 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting in a three-minute stretch of the fourth quarter. Korver's hot streak began with the Pacers up 70-66 and ended with the Bulls ahead 80-76. As Stacey King would say: "HOT SAUCE!"
Give the Pacers credit. They are The Little Engine That Almost Could. That said, shooting 37.9 percent from the field and going 1-for-10 from downtown in a veritable must-win game qualifies as a "Major Fail" in my book. And you know what qualifies as an "Epic Fail"? The one-on-five bullshit shot Darren Collison pulled the possession before Rose's go-ahead layup. And here's what Danny Granger thought of Collison's shot selection:
Of course, Granger's three-point attempt with 2.2 seconds left was even uglier than the crappy crap Collison chucked up. And Danny knows it.
Said Granger: "We didn't get the look we wanted. That was the best shot we could get. That wasn't the way we wanted it, but that was the way it happened."
Here's more on Indy's fourth quarter fail courtesy of ESPN Stats and Information: "While it wasn't pretty, the Bulls' win over the Pacers followed the same familiar scripts as in the first two games with Chicago's defense tightening up in the 4th quarter. Chicago held Indiana to just 17 points in the 4th quarter on 8-23 shooting. For the series, the Bull are holding the Pacers to 35.4 pct from the floor in the final frame."
Updated! Jeff Foster's Bill Laimbeer impression: He's been at it since Game 1:
This Laimbeer act continued last night:
I don't have the video of it, but after that foul on Rose, Foster brought an elbow down on Luol Deng's head without making any real effort to go after the basketball. Hard playoff fouls are one thing. But swiping arms and elbows in the general direction of peoples' heads and faces in that "Hey! I'm Just Putting My Arms Up!" way is dirty.
Update! The weird running guy: Basketbawful reader gf sent in this video:
Joakim Noah, quote machine: On Rose: "We got the best closer in the world. And everybody knows it. And they know it. And we know it. And their coach knows it. And they say it, too. They have no problem saying it. And we all know it, so that's definitely gives confidence to our team."
Kyle Korver, quote machine: Also on Rose: "I would just like to be athletic for a day, let alone be Derrick Rose for a day. I mean this dude, you watch some of these guys and you're just like, 'If I could move like that, this would be a totally different game.' Could you imagine? If I could run and jump like that, you'd shoot whenever you want. That would be incredible. Obviously, it's not going to happen."
Kyle Korver, unintentionally dirty quote machine: Again on Rose: "A lot of things about him are really amazing, but his ability to take that pounding and keep going."
The Philadelphia 76ers: Doug Collins was right. The cHeat are the better team.
Dwyane Wade went crazy (32 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists). LeBron James went crazy (24 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists). Chris Bosh was, uhm, mildly unstable (19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocked shots). The Nazgul had a 28-19 advantage in free throw attempts over the entire Sixers team. The rest of the cHeat managed only 25 points...but it didn't matter. The 2.5 superstars were too much for Philly.
What do you do?
What do you do?
No, really. What do you do?
Said LeBron: "This is what we envisioned."
The Sixers played tough. They did. Just like the Pacers, Philly played a superior opponent to a standstill heading into the fourth quarter. That's when the Sixers were outscored 27-19 en route to a 100-94 loss that virtually ended the series.
Said Collins: "I'm a moral person, but I don't like moral victories."
I guess I could focus on the misdirected shooting of Andre Iguodala (3-for-10), Jodie Meeks (2-for-8) and Thaddeus Young (1-for-8), but what's the point? Philly couldn't do anything with the Super Friends, who scored 23 of Miami's 27 fourth quarter points (and two of the non-them points came on James Jones' meaningless free throws with three seconds left). All you have to do is glance at the play-by-play to understand that the Sixers couldn't stop the cHeat's big guns down the stretch. All three of those guys took turns scoring.
Philly's just overmatched. And their rebounding sucked. The cHeat set a franchise record by grabbing 20 offensive rebounds. They scored 24 points off those second chances.
Said Collins: "All I have to say is 20 offensive rebounds. That's the end of the story. We can sit here and dance around it all we want. That's the game."
Zydrunas Ilgauskas, legally declared "a statue" in 17 countries, nabbed eight of those offensive boards.
Said Bosh: "Z probably jumps two inches off the ground. But he has such long arms and his tip game is great."
The Sixers will have all summer to think about Ilgauskas' long arms. Starting right after Game 4. Or maybe they can use the extra time off to go see Boobs and Goombas: a Super Mario Burlesque.
The Dallas Mavericks: Let's see: No hot shooting from Jason Kidd (8 points, 3-for-9, 2-for-8 from downtown) or Peja Stojakovic (7 points, 3-for-7, 1-for-4 on threes), no double-digit fourth quarter scoring outbursts from Dirk Nowitzki, and no victory for the Mavericks.
Brandon Roy was "treated a little better" last night and scored 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting in 23:39 off the bench. Meanwhile, Wesley Matthews toyed with Dallas like Road Runner toys with coyotes, scoring 25 points on 8-for-12 shooting. Yes, those 25 points were a playoff career-high.
Basically, Portland's backcourt ruled this game. Matthews and Roy and point guard Andre Miller combined for 57 points on 20-of-35 shooting. By comparison, Matthews and Roy combined for 17 points in the first two games.
Another big factor was foul shooting. Dallas had a 23-21 advantage in free throw attempts but the Blazers had a 17-13 advantage in makes. The Mavs went 5-for-10 from the foul line in the fourth quarter. And lost by five.
Said Dirk: "The free throws hurt. I missed three today, two (actually one) in the fourth quarter, and we had our opportunities. We had our opportunities."
That last line should probably be engrabed on the tombstone of the Nowitzki era Mavs: "We had our opportunities."
Update! Officiating fail: I forgot to mention that Kidd hit a 24-foot "two-pointer" with 12 seconds left to cut Portland's lead to 95-92. Now, had that shot been reviewed (as it should have been), the lead would've been 95-93. Now, maybe Andre Miller goes on to hit his free throws and it doesn't matter...or maybe he doesn't. We'll never know.
Bulls-Pacers: Omer Asik allocated his 2:56 stint between one steal and one foul, earning the bovines a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl.
Mavs-Frail Blazers: Tyson Chandler toyed with four boards and a field goal in 15:24 as starting big man only to take a rejection, lose the rock once, and foul out for a 7:6 Voskuhl. Starting guard DeShawn Stevenson turned over the ball once for a +1 in 4:20.